It’s never too early to start engaging with students on behalf of your institution’s alumni association. When a student is involved on campus, they are twice as likely to attend an alumni event and 1.6 times as likely to donate to your institution after graduation in comparison to those alumni who were not involved in student organizations while on campus.
When looking at this data in more depth, there are differences in the level of alumni engagement based on various student group participation. This type of information can be a great tool in helping to plan communications and programming.
As you look ahead to your programming for the 2018-2019 school year, here are four ways you can connect with graduating students before they leave campus:
- Include Students in Alumni Programming
Give students an opportunity to engage and network with existing alumni. Mentoring programs, like Georgia Tech’s Mentor Jackets, pair alumni looking to help with career development with students seeking professional guidance as they prepare to graduate. This kind of networking and exposure to the alumni network is a win for all those involved. Identify other opportunities to include students in alumni events to give them an opportunity to network and also become familiar with the alumni association.
- Tie Student Groups into Alumni Programming
As you plan affinity gatherings, be sure to involve student members in your plans and solicit their help in spreading the word to alumni. Alumni engagement data can be helpful in identifying student groups with an engaged alumni population. Connecting students with alumni helps to gain great exposure, and you’ll also entwine your organization with a segment of students that will be more likely to donate after graduation.
- Host Programs Specifically for Graduating Students
Creating programming specifically for graduating students shouldn’t just happen in the spring. Think of ways you can provide programs specifically for graduating students year-round to build a relationship with them as they get closer to graduation. This will help ensure continued engagement after graduation. At most institutions, students matriculate in the fall and spring, so it’s important to be mindful of how and when you’re talking to soon-to-be graduates.
- Support a Student Organization
Consider starting a Student Alumni Association if your institution does not yet have one. A Student Alumni Association can provide excellent resources for undergraduates by giving them opportunities to engage with alumni. It also provides your office with a way to connect with students through peers, which is always more meaningful. If you have a Student Alumni Association, or will be starting one, consider creating a Philanthropy Committee within it to assist with your philanthropy initiatives, such as crowdfunding and days of giving. A Student Alumni Association creates a streamlined transition for participants and other students who engaged with the group’s programming into the world of alumni.
Before students leave campus, make sure you’ve gathered their contact information and have an up-to-date non-institutional email address. That way, you can communicate with them after they graduate and continue to engage them.
To learn more about how your institution can improve its engagement and giving efforts, visit the resources at iModules.com.
Mirko joined the iModules team in July 2013, bringing over 11 years of higher education experience. Most recently, he was the Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Wilkes University. At iModules, he provides consulting services related to engagement scoring, strategic planning as well as in-depth analyses of client websites and programming. Mirko is a Drew University graduate and recently completed his Ed.D in higher education administration at Wilkes University, focusing on whether giving differs based on participation in different types of alumni programming.